Online gambling gains momentum in US

Online gambling gains momentum in US

WASHINGTON - Internet gambling is on a roll in the US market after years lurking in the shadows.

New Jersey kicks off its online wagering November 26, becoming the most populous state to do so after Nevada and Delaware.

Other states have become active since 2011, when the federal government signaled it would not block most forms of Internet wagering. California, Illinois and Pennsylvania are considering such moves.

Using geolocation technology, the systems require that gamblers be located within the state. But reciprocal agreements could allow gamblers to cross state lines as more states authorise online bets.

"Once these states are successful within their borders, they will figure out how to pool players across state lines to take bets from each other, and a lot of other states will jump in," said Whittier Law School professor I. Nelson Rose.

"Within 10 years, I think we will see a very large portion of states will have Internet gambling."

Morgan Stanley estimated legal US online gambling revenues would reach US$670 million (S$835 million) in 2014, increasing to US$9.3 billion in 2020.

The launch in a handful of states "will release a floodgate of investor interest in the online space, and spur new states to open to reap tax dollars," analyst Vaughan Lewis said in a note to clients.

The United States has a patchwork of gambling regulations. While casino gambling was only allowed in Nevada a few decades ago, New Jersey allowed casinos in Atlantic City in the 1970s and many states have either commercial or Indian tribe casinos.

Until recently, the federal government claimed that online gambling was unlawful. But a 2011 Justice Department legal opinion said only sports betting would be considered illegal.

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